One of the most frequent questions we get from our North End Market Tour participants is how to make a good tomato sauce. To be honest, the image of the Italian Nonna patiently stirring a big pot of sauce simmering on the back of the stove for hours and hours is a bit misleading. With the exception of a Sunday Ragu, most tomato sauces in Italy can be prepared in the time it takes to cook the pasta.
Of course, fresh tomatoes are preferred when in season, but even your Italian Nonna would use canned when necessary. A couple of crushed cloves of garlic sautéed until golden, a can of whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand, a little salt, and some torn basil, and ten minutes later dinner is served.
The canned tomato of choice is the San Marzano from the eponymous town at the base of Mt. Vesuvius. The volcanic ash in the soil produces the perfect tasting and textured tomato for making a sauce. But lately, we’ve been turning our attention to another, newer contender; Agromonte brand Salsa Pronta di Pomodorino Ciliegino. This smooth as silk, deep red bottled sauce from the province of Ragusa in Southeastern Sicily is a quick and easy alternative to canned tomatoes. No crushing required, just empty into a pan, heat and serve. Cherry tomatoes are full of flavor, and often what we crave in the dead of winter when the larger tomatoes are tasteless and mealy.
Made from only cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, basil, salt and celery, the rich deep flavor of this bottled sauce is perfect for pasta. The small, 11.65 oz. bottle is deceiving, as it will cover a whole pound of Pasta.
Feel free to embellish a bit. A little garlic, some crumbled fennel-scented sausage; the possibilities are only limited to your imagination. But don’t get carried away. Your Nonna would be the first to tell you that simple is best.
Agromonte Brand Cherry Tomato Sauce is available at:
The Cheese Shop
20 Fleet Street
Boston, MA. 021134
Tel – 617/570-9110
written by Jim Becker, Guide